Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Earthshake: Poems From the Ground Up
Peters, Lisa Westberg. 2003. EARTHSHAKE: POEMS FROM THE GROUND UP.
Ill. by Cathie Felstead. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060292660 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]
SUMMARY and ANALYSIS
This book presents the reader with a group of scientific poems about such topics as plate tectonics, meteors and underwater currents. The surprising part is that it takes a subject that some may feel to be as dull as a rock; cracks it open, and makes it come alive with the sparkle of lively language. This collection of fun and witty poems crosses the boundary between earth science and language arts. There is an example of haiku describing a hill in Japan that provides clay for bowls and a concrete poem shaped as a quartz crystal. Other poems take less traditional forms as the “fiery death” of a meteor is told as a news blurb.
Teachers and children will chuckle over Lisa Westberg Peters’ clever use of language as the verses discuss the proper loading of continental “plates” into the dishwasher. The “pun” continues when the strata of earth are served up on a platter like layer cake, complete with candles. The illustrations, done by Cathie Felstead, are a great accompaniment and as individual as the poems themselves. All of these factors come together with great text layouts to add further meaning. Words take on direction in the poem “Dizzy Wind” and follow the arcs of the globe in “Polar Confusion.” Great endnotes further explaining the scientific topics covered are the perfect ending to this unique and imaginative collection. EARTHSHAKE is a great way to convey to students the message that there is poetry everywhere and that science is interesting and fun.
This could be great as a reinforcement or discussion starting point for an earth science lesson. The poems can be brought out individually as the lessons they pertain to are presented, or used as a whole.
Children can re-illustrate the poems using some of the substances described here. Paint can be blown around the paper through a straw, for “Dizzy Wind” and sand can be used to resist paint for “Michigan Sahara,” exploring language and science through art.
Poetry collections that cross (subject) boundaries:
Franco, Betsy. MATHMATICKLES. ISBN 0689843577
Katz, Susan. THE REVOLUTIONARY MRS. BROWN: AND OTHER POEMS ABOUT COLONIAL LIFE. ISBN 0689840047
Wolf, Allan. THE BLOOD HUNGRY SPLEEN AND OTHER POEMS. ISBN 076361565X
By Marianne Follis